Consumers with adjustable-rate mortgages should see if they are eligible to refinance into a fixed-rate home loan, while those who already have fixed-rate loans should see if they can refinance into a lower rate. In doing so, consumers should first obtain their credit report and see if their mortgage is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, Rodgers says. Those with Fannie or Freddie loans may be eligible to refinance into a lower rate through a second component of Obama's housing plan. "If you can, refinance," says Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. "The rates are low." Thirty-year fixed-mortgage rates averaged an attractive 5.15 percent for the week ending March 5, according to Freddie Mac.
6. Is there a silver lining in this mess? It's nearly impossible to spot any sort of silver lining in the current housing mess. But if there's anything good to come out of this, it's the hope that homeowners, lenders, regulators, and policymakers will learn from their mistakes and ensure that mortgages going forward will be properly underwritten and affordable. By overlooking the lessons of the crisis, we risk going through this devastating cycle again in the future.